The (Not So) Secret Book

Week 4 (B): Book of Shadows

A Book of Shadows (BoS for short) is a pagan text comprised of rituals, invocations, blessings, divinatory results, and other related witchy things. My first was a spiralbound notebook with a black cover, on which I drew a triple moon pentagram with puff paint (cut me some slack, I was 13!). I’ve had many others over the years, but currently I have this beautiful blank book that I am steadily filling with spells, meditation guides, and other things:


I also have a digital Book of Shadows, which is a constantly changing document that will hopefully one day be printed as a single volume for my own use. It is a hybrid, containing correspondences and other information that has been with me since my first Book of Shadows, to recently acquired information on balancing the chakras. While my handwritten one is simply writing because I cannot draw to save my life, my digital one is filled with art that moves my spirit. By comparison to my often messy handwriting in plain black ink, the digital BoS is an explosion of color.

My written Book of Shadows is actually more like what I’ve always called a mirror book. I don’t remember when or where I learned the term “mirror book”, so if anybody recognizes it feel free to chime in.  A mirror book is sort of like a witchy journal: it’s a collection of spells and invocations, just as a BoS is, but with notes on how well the spells work and what changes I might make, along with things like ritual poetry, a record of my dreams, and general thoughts on spirituality. I refer to it as my Book of Shadows, but because it’s also got elements of a mirror book, it’s really sort of both.

Behold! My original Book of Shadows in all its'

Behold! My original BoS in all its…um…glory

Because I’m a lifelong journal writer—my first journal was when I was about 6 years old—so chronicling my pagan life comes naturally. When I started reading about paganism, I wanted to reflect on the things I was reading, so I wrote notes about the books. Nowadays I include the results of any tarot card readings I do, as well as the usual spell notes and sabbat records.

As a great collector of blank books and journals, I’ve probably had ten Books of Shadows in the last fifteen years. Most of my older ones are long gone, lost to the space constraints of apartment living and the constant moving. Of course, the digital BoS has survived, in one form or another. The thing that’s been most important to me is that, like most of my tools, no one touches my Book of Shadows except for me. It’s not a secret what’s in it, for the most part, but since no one touches it, the contents have become secret by default.

What does your Book of Shadows look like? Or does your tradition mandate that you cannot discuss it?

9 responses

  1. Dyslexic Witch

    I wrote about the Mirror Book on my main blog, Book of Mirrors (blogspot), last week. I don’t know about you, but I first came across it on either Covenspace or Witchbook. I don’t remember the original authors name (I believe it was a man), but it’s the name that I’ve been using for my spiritual journal, as well, and I’ve been using for since my discovery of the term. I have the text from that post in my Book of Whatever, but not that author’s name unfortunately.

    January 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    • I know I didn’t read about it online; it was before I was brave enough to search for witchy things online. (I was young, still living with my parents, etc.) I’m glad it’s not an obsolete term though; at least one other person besides me is using it! :p

      January 24, 2014 at 4:11 pm

  2. onyx1688

    (lol your artistic skills- but im sure your devotioun made up for it)

    I found this post very interesting, unfortunately my book after 6-7 years still looks like a handful of brain cells. i go from phases of “its not necessary” to “i want to make one!!”but then never do… but digital version is great idea! modern witches after all.. 😀

    January 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    • I know, my artistic skills are…well, creative. Eh heh.

      I do love my digital version for its searchability (if that wasn’t a word before, it is now), but there’s something so connected to the feeling and motion of hand writing that for me, both are necessary.

      January 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      • onyx1688

        yes, well its a tradeoff.. for me probably electronic version would work better? im now very tempted to try ^~^

        January 25, 2014 at 6:56 pm

  3. omg that BOS is adorable =) love the color corresponding glitter glue! mine is an old composition notebook that I tried to color black with a dying permanent marker. It’s stellar.

    January 24, 2014 at 7:01 pm

  4. I love this entry. I have about 6 (current) BoS tomes around my house :p I am a VERY creative person, so my books are full of colour, illustrations, stickers, glitter, random feathers and leaves I’ve picked up… some even have popped binding 😀
    I have a different name for the different types of BoS – I have my BoS Files (basics, lists of correspondences, some of the very things I learnt, etc), my BoS Journal (diary-like, keeping track of my emotional & metaphysical energy levels, personal experiences, quotes, thinks I find interesting enough to add, personal ritual/recipe/spell creations, etc), my Book of Moons (primarily Astrology, but also including bits & pieces from other Zodiac systems), my Book of Mirrors (unsure whether we mean the same thing here, but it’s filled with my reflections on prompts/topics/questions posed by others, or found in books/online that prompt me to re-examine my beliefs in that particular area), a book devoted to my patron deity and the work I do with Her, and a book I copy excerpts into, make notes on text I’ve discovered, etc about/for my patron deity.
    OMGs when I’ve typed it all out like that I have a friggin LIBRARY! Lol, anyway, thanks for this post 😀

    January 26, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    • I wish I were so meticulous as to keep that many different books! But also I do enjoy having it all in one place (which is why I have a table of contents that I fill in as I go, so I can actually find things!). And yes, we mean the same thing by Book of Mirrors.

      January 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

      • 😀 it’s not meticulous at all, trust me! I have most of… my life, really, in a state of organised chaos.

        January 28, 2014 at 8:35 am

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